February 25, 2009

NO WORDS NECESSARY: 'Don't Ever Give Up'

We're constantly urging people to "Never Stop Giving Back."

This 11-year-old angel took that mantra to a new level, and that's why I had to share this video.

Just in case your sound cuts out or there is an issue with your volume as the video starts to play ... Brenden Foster (pictured below) starts out by saying, "I should be gone in a week or so."

February 24, 2009

ME & ANTHONY: A Day at The Farm

Anthony, my Little Brother through BBBS, and I had a great day at my Mom and Dad's house recently. They live out in the country, and there are countless activities to keep a 13-year-old boy occupied.


• Anthony got to drive "the Mule" – an all-terrain vehicle (photo below).

• We were charged by a bull.

• Spent quality time splashing around in the river with the dogs. (Anthony tried to dam up the Brazos.)

• We hit golf balls off the hill and into the woods. (The only bad part about that, you had to go out and try and find them.)

• We got got up close and personal with all the animals, including longhorns and donkeys.

It was just a great day. Anthony is a wonderful young man. I pray that I'm making a difference in his life.

February 23, 2009


“Let’s meet at Starbucks.”

Infamous words when planning many first-time meetings.

Why do we do it? Why Starbucks?

Here are a few explanations/arguments (and rebuttals) that come to mind:

1) We’re all 
addicted to coffee?
No. I see people in Starbucks all time who don’t even go near the counter – much less order a Venti cup of anything. (Because of cost-cutting measures in my household, I actually bring my coffee that I brewed at home.)

2) It’s a WiFi Hotspot?
Very nice feature, but even McDonald’s even has WiFi now.

3) It’s chic?
It used to be, but now it’s more of a cliché.

4) There is one around every corner?
Very true, but please refer to Point No. 2 (and make sure you pay attention to my argument below)

5) The music?
Please….all you have to do is log-on to Pandora and type in Duffy Rockferry and you’ll be good to go.

By no means am I passing judgment. I’m the first guy to throw out those 4 ½ words: “Let’s meet at Starbucks.”

I’m just looking for a little clarity with a couple rhetorical questions.

There is one more explanation/argument that DOES need to be addressed, though…

6) It’s conveniently easy?
Ummmmm…..negative, good buddy!

To a certain degree, I can buy No. 1 through No. 5, but “easy” is the last adjective I would use to describe the Starbucks’ meeting experience.

NOTE: I’m not talking about meeting your college roommate or sister, I’m talking about first-time encounters – whether it’s business related or someone you met on plentyoffish.com.

It’s the simple things that make the Starbucks’ meeting experience so difficult…like which Starbucks are we actually talking about? (This really happened to me and a reporter for the Fort Worth Business Press – no one to blame, just miscommunication.)

If you live in Fort Worth, like me, don’t EVER say the Starbucks on Hulen – THERE ARE FIVE!

If you live in any other metropolitan city in the United States of America – pick a major street and you’ll run into the exact same predicament.

That’s an easy fix, though – just pick an obscure landmark near your desired location. (FYI: The more obscure the better.)

Figuring out who you’re supposed to be meeting can be the convenience killer. (Not to mention a potential powder keg of embarrassment.)

I will say this: It SHOULD be easy, but the phrase “Let’s meet at Starbucks” MUST be followed by something along these lines:

• “…I’ll have the 80-pound Weinheimer with a yellow cardigan on.”

• “…I’ll be wearing my butt-less chaps and a rhinestone tiara.”

• “…I’ll be practicing my downward facing dog next to the travel mugs.”

When I was interviewing to be a Big through Big Brothers Big Sisters, this lack of communication reared its Grande head.

I arrived a little early and did the “Starbucks Scan,” looking for anyone who might fit the profile of a BBBS interviewee. (Whatever that looks like.) During this scan, you also look for anyone not hiding behind their laptop, random eye-contact, and/or the slightly opened mouth that MIGHT actually utter your name.

If you’re on the receiving end of this “scan,” you’re looking for squinty eyes and then a nod of the head with raised eyebrows. Again, the slightly opened mouth about to pronounce the first letter of your first name is a dead give away.

Anyway, after I concluded that my appointment had not arrived, I posted up near the front door. (This is where you have “personal scans” with every single person that walks through the door. Talk about awkward – just a lot of random eye gestures and slight movements of the mouth to perfect strangers.)

This went on for 20 minutes – our scheduled meeting time had come and gone. (“Am I at the right Starbucks?”)

Finally, a young lady walked in – started a “Starbucks Scan” of her own – and I went for it:

ME: “Are you Stephaine?”

LADY (slightly relieved): “Yes.”

ME (very relieved): “Hi. I’m Drew. Can I get you a coffee?”

small talk, small talk, small talk

LADY (after placing her order): “My mom is probably going to show up soon.”

ME (a little confused): “OK...umm….I’d love to meet her.”

ME (after the cashier took my $8.26): “Is your mom just going to be in the area?”

LADY: “Oh, she’s interested in insurance, too.”

ME (uncomfortably giggling and flashing a confused smirk): “What are you talking about? Insurance?”

LADY (laughing): “Stop it! Everybody in Texas is such a kidder. I think it’s….”

ME (interrupting – not giggling): “Seriously, why are you here?”

LADY (reaching for her coffee and still laughing): “Such kidders…”

ME: “Are you with Big Brothers Big Sisters?”

LADY (stopping in mid-laugh): “What? No.”

ME: “I’m supposed to be meeting with Stephanie from Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

LADY (starring blankly with her coffee inches from her lips)

After several seconds of awkward fumbling – obviously replaying the last three minutes in our heads – we laughed about it.

Then, a gentleman with raised eyebrows and a slightly opened mouth approached.

“Stephaine?” he asked. “I’m Johnny Soandso from Soandso Insurance.”

The relief in that lady’s eyes was priceless – mainly because she got a one-way ticket out of Awkwardville.

Before they walked away, though, I told Johnny Soandso that he owed me for her coffee. Since he didn’t know – and/or care – about the uncomfortable situation we just lived through, he shrugged it off and scurried off to sell some insurance.

That’s not where the story ends, though, because I was still missing MY Stephanie.

Once again, I thought to myself: “Am I at the wrong Starbucks?”

Then, my phone rang.

ME: “This is Drew.”

CALLER: “Drew, this is Stephanie with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’m at Starbucks…”

ME (interrupting): “OK…which one?”

Come to find out, MY Stephanie had been using the exact same Starbucks as a satellite office for most of the afternoon – long before our scheduled appointment.

She was there when I walked through the door and right past her table.

She was there when I performed my initial “scan” AND countless number of “personal scans.”

She was sitting 20 feet from the front counter – right where the weird train collided with the wall of assumption.

ME (gritting my teeth): “Really?….I’m here too.”

Something HAS to be done so 
this never happens to anyone ever again.

Let’s set some rules and guidelines.

Let’s implement a check-in system at the front counter.

How about a kiosk to make crude signs, like we're waiting on a flight that just landed at DFW Airport?

You know what…I think we should get together and talk about it….let’s meet at...I don't know...what about McDonald’s?

February 22, 2009

FINAL CALL TO ACTION: 50 Donations in 5 Days

I'm still very determined to show Back on My Feet that I mean business. 

Like I've written before, I want to bring a BOMF chapter to The Metroplex. This non-profit speaks directly to my heart, and I KNOW that it can make a difference in the homeless communities in Dallas/Fort Worth.

I need your help!

Help me show the entire Back on My Feet family that I'm very serious about this vision. I am running in the Cowtown half marathon next weekend (Feb. 28th) and I'm asking for anyone and everyone to make a simple donation of $13. (That's $1 for every mile that I'll be running in the race.)

All proceeds will go to Back on My Feet – with the hope that every single penny reminds them that there is a foot soldier in Fort Worth who is willing to fight for their incredible cause. (Not to mention an army of supporters – YOU – standing right behind him!)

My goal is to receive 50 donations in 5 days – so I will be able to mail BOMF a check for $650 before the starting gun fires on Saturday. I know this is a lofty goal, but I've never backed down from a challenge before.

For all of those who have already made a donation – I'm grateful beyond words. For those that haven't .... again, I'm asking for your help.

“Back of My Feet is my way of making positive change. Running is one of the most empowering activities there is because there is no end. There is always another mile, another road, another right turn. There is no buzzer and there is no referee. It has taught me so much about life, especially the simple notion that to get anywhere, you have to take it one step at a time."
– Anne M. Mahlum, Founder and President

February 18, 2009


I just wanted to share two opportunities to give back.


I am trying to to take two groups a month to help serve dinner at PNS. This is part of an initiative spearheaded by the shelter's new Awareness Committee.

It is a WONDERFUL opportunity for you to be introduced to Presbyterian Night Shelter and all of its fantastic services.

I volunteer at the shelter every Tuesday night and it has changed my life. (read about it here) I simply want to share this experience with other individuals who want to give back.

It's only a 2 1/2-hour commitment on Monday night. THAT'S IT!

If you are interested in getting a group together (four to five people), please let me know. If you want to fly solo – that will be just as great. I will forward you all of the information and we can decide on which Monday works best for you.

(this is perfect for TCU students or recent graduates)

The Fresh Air Fund is a non-profit that provides free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities.
Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually, and the organization is looking for counselors for the Summer of 2009.

For more information about the Fresh Air Fund click here

To fill out an application click here

February 17, 2009


People are constantly asking about how my business is going.

Ninety-five percent of the time, I'm honestly of stuck for an answer. (You would have thought they asked me to define quantum physics and its relationship to the law of attraction.)

If there was only a simple way to capture the following bullet points in one sentence:

• I love what I'm doing;
• I totally believe in our product and service;
• I'm inspired by our emphasis on giving back,


• We our cash flow is a glorified trickle, and
• I feel totally paralyzed.

Try explaining that quagmire to someone as you exchange pleasantries in the dairy section of the grocery store.

A fellow entrepreneur, who I tend to use as a sounding board and source of inspiration, was able to find a blog post that beautifully nailed my current situation with a poetic metaphor. More importantly, it provided a game plan that has kicked my butt into gear. (Thanks, Mike!)

Here are some of the highlights:

• INITIAL QUESTION: "Do you ever find yourself feeling like you’re business isn’t moving anywhere?"

• METAPHOR: The ultimate family vacation and car trouble.

• THE BOTTOM LINE: "If you’re feeling a little stuck right now, you have a choice: You can either stay stuck or you can look for the shift you need to get back in motion toward your dreams."

Read the whole blog post by clicking here.

February 16, 2009


A lot of people question why I have a Facebook account and/or why I'm so active on it. (My mom being the lead interrogator.)

I had one TCU student actually write on my Wall, "You're on Facebook more than a freshman girl."

If they only knew about my Linkedin account and Twitter, the most recent addition to my social networking family.

Up until now, I've done a horrible job explaining why I use these "tools." I called it a "self-branding initiative" and went about my business.

This 10-minute video by Perry Belcher hits the nail on the head. (If you don't have 10 minutes – I encourage you to re-visit this post when you do have time to watch it. It's very enlightening.)

BTW: Thanks for dropping 
by my house! (Don't worry, you'll understand)

February 15, 2009


This is how people on a budget spend Valentine’s Day!

Tanya and I received a complimentary VIP invitation to the pre-opening dinner at The Keg Steakhouse in Arlington. It was one of those “practice runs” for the entire staff – hostesses, wait staff, cooks, managers, etc.

It cost us $5 per person for dinner and drinks were half price – all proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

We had an AMAZING dinner for $16 (plus a hefty tip, of course).

I highly recommend the food and atmosphere at The Keg – and I applaud their incredible willingness to give back to BBBS.

That was our big Valentine’s night out (photo below).

Now, the gifts….

Tanya rolled over in bed the other night and the following conversation took place:

TANYA: Let’s not do gifts this Valentine’s Day.

ME (half asleep): OK

TANYA: I’m serious. Don’t say OK and then go buy me something.


TANYA: I know you, Drew. You’re so sweet, and you say you won’t…

ME: Girl…no gifts!

Tanya gave me a kiss on the cheek and rolled back over. A few second later…

TANYA (with her back to me): Let’s get each other oil changes.

ME: (not stirring): I love you!

February 12, 2009


It's time to say thank you ... AGAIN!

Even though I've already sent dozens of e-mails expressing my appreciation to anyone and everyone who helped make our recent Volunteer Kickoff Rally possible, I wanted to show my genuine appreciation one more time. 


I also wanted to share some photos from the inaugural event, which helped launch the 2009 Tarrant County Homeless Count in style. 

I'm also going to sprinkle in a few more extra special expressions of gratitude. (Can you say thank you too many times?)

First of all ... a HUGE thanks to Brian Blevins who took all these AWESOME photos!

An extra special thank you to event co-sponsor, Chicken Express, 
for providing all the food and drinks for the volunteers.
The event would not have been the same without their generosity.
(Thanks, Ricky!)

Jason Eady (above) is THE MAN! 
He definitely added a buzz to the event
with his incredible country music.

Thank you to Panera Bread for the "Free Coffee" coupons

Thank you to The WARM Place, Big Brothers Big Sisters,
and Presbyterian Nigh Shelter for providing
volunteer information for our Raffle Bags

Thanks to Cold Stone Creamery, 
Jamba Juice, and
Potbelly Sandwich Works 
for donating coupons and gift certificates

Thank you to Starbucks for donating 3 lbs. of coffee

Thank you to Put a Cork In It for donating two cases of wine
(Chris, you rock!)

Thanks to Cowtown Marathon for donating t-shirts
and information for the Raffle Bags

Have I already thanked Chicken Express?

Special thanks to Back on My Feet 
for sending brochures (above) to help spread
the word about their awesome organization.

Thank you to Gary and Kelsey Patterson 
AND the entire TCU Athletics Department
–  especially Monica Ray –
for their raffle items and contributions 
to the Raffle Bags

Thank you to the Movie Tavern for donating
six movie tickets that we turned into a "Date Night" package
for three of the volunteers


Thanks to all the Fort Worth Police Officers
who participated in the Count

Thank you to the Texas Rangers 
for their Raffle Bag contributions

Thanks to Cindy Crain (above) and her staff for letting
e-Partners in Giving host the inaugural event.
(BTW: I love that shirt!)

Thanks to Wachovia and the City of Fort Worth 
for the give-away items
(Greg and Debbie, you guys are awesome!)

Thanks to CiCi's Pizza, Schlotzsky's, and Marble Slab
for helping make the Raffle Bags special

We appreciate World Market and Jason's Deli
for donating the actual sacks for the Raffle Bags

Thanks to the whole e-Partners in Giving Family,
especially my wife, "The Bulldog," and Connie
for helping us pull this off

Thanks to my family (sister Allison above) and friends
who answered the call to action to give back


This Rally was thrown for you –
your willingness to give back 
should be admired and applauded!

February 11, 2009

MARK CUBAN: Here He Comes To Save the Day (better if you apply tune from Mighty Mouse)

Mark Cuban is taking matters into his own hands – offering his own stimulus package for entrepreneurs. 

Since now that I'm a card-carrying entrepreneur, I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

Here are some excerpts from his blog post, his rules, and some of my favorite comments. 
I briefly add my own thoughts 


"My first inclination is always to try to look 'for the next big thing.' " 

"I'm a big believer that entrepreneurs will lead us out of this mess. I just needed a way to help."

"You must post your business plan here on my blog where I expect other people can and will comment on it. I also expect that other people will steal the idea and use it elsewhere. That is the idea. Call this an open source funding environment."

"I will invest money in businesses presented here on this blog. No minimum, no maximum, but a very specific set of rules."


3. It MUST BE CASH FLOW BREAK EVEN within 60 days

4. It must be profitable within 90 days.

5. Funding will be on a monthly basis. If you dont make your numbers, the funding stops

12. In your business plan , make sure to specify how much equity I will receive or how I will get a return on my money.


"Concept is great but if I am going to start something with sweat equity and reach profitability within 60 days why do I need outside money? Perhaps I am being selfish…."


"Congratulations: You’ve just created the worst venture capital company in the world.

"The people that invested $500K in our startup and spent 8 years in R&D would quite literally shoot me if I pusued this funding arrangement. Lets see:

1. Give away your idea to the world
2. Sign a crappy disclosure/funding agreement
3. Sign away control"


"I know that you said that you are “trying not to be a VC”, but frankly these “terms” are worse than any VC terms I’ve ever seen. They are unrealistic when it comes to creating real employment, they are more restrictive than necessary, and they just aren’t going to work.

"In short, I’m a fan of the Open Source model. But I think the way you’ve gone about open sourcing this particular concept is a bit off."


"I am a 22 year old college student, a HUGE Mavs fan and I live here in Texas. I’m not going to lie, I don’t have a wonderful idea yet to start a company. Of course, other than starting a sports bar/restaurant in town which I think would be very profitable. How about you give this poor college kid, whose in debt, a skinny 6 foot 6 white male a chance to work for you! Literally doing anything, whether it be interning for a genius billionaire like yourself or simply working for the Mavs in Dallas or even the towel boy! Please give me a shot, I always dream of my big break!"


Mark Cuban is a genius!

He has single-handedly made all of us take a step back and simply think, dream, and take action. By dangling the possibility of money – he lit a fuse that re-ignited an explosion of thoughts and ideas – some that have probably been buried for years and years.

He gave some people the courage to say, "Maybe this is a good idea!"

Others might say, "I'm going to go for it!"

He forced people to pull out their "idea journals" or sketches of their wacky invention and say, "What if?"

Secondly, if a home run idea does happen to fall in his lap, he has laid out a no-lose situation for himself.

Finally, he has masterfully developed a platform to be a complete ass to anyone and everyone who is willing to take it. It must be gratifying as hell to have your "million-dollar idea" already in the bank. I never realized that automatically made you an expert on anything.

Last question: Aren't the Mavericks in the middle of a sub-par basketball season?

February 10, 2009

BELIEVE IT: 5-Day Adventure for Under $200

With my ski trip in my rearview mirror, I’ve had 
a couple of questions creep into my subconscious.

Reminder: I wanted to prove that I could go to Vail, Colorado, for five days on the cheap – and run my company at the same time.

Here are the haunting questions:

• Was I cheapskate?

• Was I a freeloader?

In regards to finances, I’ve started to play back my whole trip in my mind … and I think the answer is a solid "I don't think so" to both questions. I firmly believe that the terms “smart,” “frugal,” and “tight” are a little more fitting.

Here are the final numbers from my adventurous experiment (If I didn’t have to eat anything OR drink a couple pints – I could have crushed this experiment):

GOAL: $130



– Airplane Flight:     $0 
(spouse benefits through Southwest Airlines)

– Train/Bus Ride to Vail:     $45

– Shuttle from Vail:     $57

LODGING: $0 total

– Cousin’s house in Denver:     $0 
(thanks a million, Brent and Rita)

– Condo in East Vail:     $0 
(thanks two million, Mark)

SKIING: $0 total

– Lift Tickets:     $0 
(used credit card points)

– Ski Rentals:     $0 
(used credit card points)


FOOD: $96 total

– Meal/coffee on train:     $12

– Pint of stout & app in Glenwood Springs:      $18
(NOTE: Thanks to Chris P. for volunteering to pick up the other round  or my budget would have been shattered – photo above)

– Lunch/snacks at ski lodge:     $17

– Grocery shopping in Vail:      $35

– Breakfast at Denver Airport:     $14

(ANOTHER NOTE: If weren’t for the generosity of all the guys who stayed in the condo, who did more than their fair share of grocery shopping, and my cousin’s hospitality – my food expenses would have throttled my budget.)


OVERVIEW (more like my point): It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to go on a weeklong adventure. All you have to do is plan ahead a little – especially in regards to food – cut out the fluff, and know some friends with transportation benefits and/or vacation houses.

(LAST NOTE: I also encourage everyone to look at your points system with your credit cards – without American Express and its Membership Rewards Points, this trip would have never happened. I always just ignored those offers in the past – there are some pretty great deals, though.)

Does anyone have a time-share near a beach?

February 9, 2009


Anytime you volunteer, there is the opportunity for a unique and magical experience.

Whether you’re rocking a child at the local children’s hospital or picking up trash in your community – there is a chance that your heartstrings will become vulnerable or a whole new world is revealed.

These special moments of clarity, appreciation, and/or inspiration don’t happen every time you volunteer your time and energy, BUT if you keep giving back, I PROMISE you will have one of these 

The 2009 Homeless Count provided one of those moments for a good friend of mine, her team, and the Fort Worth Police Officer who assisted their effort.

I wanted to share an e-mail thread between this team. (It is nothing short of tremendous.)

To help you completely understand their dialogue, here is a little background: With the guidance of Officer Rex Layton, they surveyed four homeless gentlemen that live under a bridge near downtown Fort Worth. That was only a small part of their eye-opening night in Fort Worth, but it may have been the most impactful.

(If you don't feel like reading each e-mail – 
MAKE SURE you read the last one from Officer Layton.)

From: Kelly I.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
To: Layton, Walter R.
cc: Kristina B., Leslie H.
Subject: THANK YOU!

Officer REX!!!!!!

Hello there! I just wanted to THANK YOU again for making our experience so great last night. Leslie, Kristina and I are so glad we participated in the Homeless Count, and we are glad we got matched with you!

Thanks for knowing the spots, too! Meeting Kenny, Kevin, Don and Gary was such a valuable experience. As with most volunteering opportunities, I’m appreciative of gaining a new perspective. I also appreciate the way you treated them (as humans), and I appreciate the way you let us get in the middle of the action (in more ways than one!). I can’t get them off my mind today.

Thank you for helping to maximize our experience last night and more importantly, for the work you do. Please keep in touch, Adam516.

Have a great weekend.



From: Kristina B.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
Subject: Re: THANK YOU!

I had a great time, too! 

I've lived here all my life and was surprised to find that I still had a lot to learn about my city. 

I crawled into my bed last night and felt extra appreciative of my privileged life. At the same time, I was reminded that I could still have joy even if I didn't have luxury material possessions, like Kevin when he said that the river is his bedroom window and he can look at the ducks and at night he can see and hear the owl. Thanks for the experience guys!



From: Leslie H.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
Subject: RE: THANK YOU!

I did have a great time. 

I thought I was prepared to be impacted by this experience, but I was wrong. 

Our first stop was intense, even though we didn't get a chance to meet anyone. Just seeing the small hut-like home made out of tree branches was intense. Just to notice and see that whoever lived there – their lifestyle was almost animalistic. 

I know we all were pumped & really wanted a complete experience by meeting the homeless. I thought I knew what I was going to say, I thought I was ready. When we reached the bridge I was at a loss for words. Here we met some of the coolest, open homeless guys around. 

I was impressed by the fact that these gentlemen had come together and formed their own family unit – and they all addressed their spot under the bridge as "Home." We all have an idea, or image of what home looks like, but nothing compared to these people & their perspectives on the world around them. 

Thank you again Kelly for the invite to join in.

Thank you to Kelly's friend Drew for keying her in.

Thanks Kristina for keepin’ it real, it was really great meeting & hangin’ with you.

And a BIG THANK YOU to Officer Layton … (a.k.a. the coolest Rex we've ever met) for takin’ us on a spin through your beat & making it a complete experience.

Consumed by Compassion,



From: Layton, Rex
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009
To: Kelly, Leslie, Kristina
Subject: RE: THANK YOU!

Well thank you very much! 

I too appreciate what ya'll did last night as well … it’s always very nice to meet such caring and considerate folks, who are kind people with kind hearts. 

As you can imagine, I see all types of people out in this world – whether it be criminals, homeless people, lower-class, middle-class, upper-class, good or bad people. I see them and encounter them all – most of the time its not a pleasant experience, but that just comes with the job! Nevertheless, I try and give all the benefit of the doubt, until shown otherwise....

But anyway the point I’m trying to make is that ya'll reassured my hope in all of mankind by demonstrating your genuine care and concern for those in need … it is very refreshing to experience genuine goodness in people once in a while. It also motivates me to want to strive to be a better cop and reminds me why I became a cop – that is to serve and protect! 

If there's anything I can do to help you please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me. Be safe!

Rex Layton-FWPD

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